Sweet Memories | Newberry

Sweet Memories

Well, it’s going into Collectibles. Unless I sell it online, of course. It’s one of those donations that I KNOW someone out there is going to want. I’m just not perfectly sure how to price it yet.

It came in with a big batch of books on trains and railroads that was set aside for the Newberry to decide on. Did all these railroad books belong with the collection or not? Not, as it turns out, in most cases. Either the Library already had them, or a lot of libraries in Illinois had them, or they were more just someone’s love affair with pictures of big, black locomotives than they were scholarly studies. The story could have been a little different for each

They were a year or so in the process, and I am really amazed that my collectible came back to me. It isn’t so much that it really, really belonged in the collection. It’s just that it’s so small compared to the books it was stacked among.

These are proper, solid train books, some of them weighing a good ten pounds. At least three quarters of them fall into the coffee table book category, or what I call the BBWLP: Big Books With Lotsa Pictures. A few of these will wind up on the Collector’s table: this two volume history of the Delaware Lackawanna seems to run around $150 online. Others are less rare or are, as I say, merely some trainlover’s collection of photographs of really neat trains. THESE will be found in our Transportation section.

By contrast, this little collectible is a booklet roughly one inch by two inches, and even with the staple hardly weighs an entire ounce. It survived, of course, because someone had tucked it into a bigger book.

We get a lot of things tucked into books, many of which turn out to be worth more than the book. Just this week, we’ve found half a dozen postcards of trains (tucked into the train books, of course), a certificate from King Neptune attesting to the passage of the Equator, a San Francisco room service menu, and a ticket to a performance of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra conducted by Daniel Barenboim. Some of these we left in the book they inhabited (that ticket was inside a program for that performance) and others went over to a pile to be prepared for an appearance next July in the Collectibles Circle. But this little book is different. Really different.

It isn’t necessarily rare: you could have owned one, back in the day. I’m a little surprised that I never owned one, because I can see the original owner of this and I had much in common. I, too, had a stapler, so I COULD have made such a book. And I also was fascinated by the pictures on Domino Sugar packets.

As collectibles go, the Domino sugar packets aren’t quite up there yet with Nobel Prizes or letters from Presidents of the United States. The day may come. I guess no one has written a book about them yet. And yet the packets have all the earmarks of a Collectible: the pictures changed over the years, they were published in distinct series, and they ran along the lines of what would interest those members of society who found themselves in coffee shops and cafes.

And yet, believe it or not, NO ONE seems to have published a reference guide to the sugar packets, so I don’t know what year this series of vintage automobile pictures was produced. (I believe mine showed clipper ships.) You can go online and SEE other series: vintage airplanes, horses, etc. But there has not yet been a price guide, nor, as far as I can see, even a Domino Sugar Packet Collectors’ Club.

Before stapling these packets into a little book, the previous owner neatly clipped off one end of each packet and used the sugar. This was wise, as it has enabled the empty packets to go through life unmolested by creatures who had no interest in antique automobilia. The booklet is therefore in excellent condition and ripe for sale, leaving me with only one question.

Why use it as a bookmark in a book on trains? Or didn’t Domino ever do train pictures? Until you write that price guide, I shall be left in suspense.

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